Soiling, Sneeky Poos
Encopresis - Soiling in children and young adults
Children usually develop the ability to be toilet trained by about three years of age. 'Soiling' is when the bowels leak or are emptied into the underwear, or in places other than the toilet. Even after a child is toilet trained, there may be occasional accidents with soiling (poo) in your child's underwear, and it is good to look into what is going on for the child when this is going on. If a child is unable to be toilet trained or has regular poo accidents after the age of three to four years or if a child has been toilet trained and at a later stage starts to soil, this is when parents will want to investigate further.
About 1-3% of children have a regular problem with soiling, and some may have issues with day or night wetting as well. It is generally more common in boys, and may vary from a small to moderate 'skid mark', to larger amounts that need to be removed from underwear before it can be washed.
Encopresis or soiling problems usually build up over a period of time. While it is caused by chronic constipation and fecal loading, it can appear as though the child has diarrhoea. The worst thing a person can do is take diarrhoea medication to make this go away, as the underlying cause is severe constipation. A bowel blockage is a medical emergency, so if there are bowel issues going on, it is important to have it investigated thoroughly. Naturopaths look beyond the acute presentation of a condition into the causative drivers of a condition, so it is a good idea to see both a medical professional for a diagnosable disease investigation, as well as a functional health professional such as a Naturopaths, to begin addressing the sustaining factors, and supporting the body's self-healing capacity. Everything that happens in the body, happens for a reason. Never suppress symptoms without investigating the reason they are there.
Most children have no control over the soiling, and they lose sensitivity to the sensation, the smell and the feeling.
Some children can have wetting associated with their stool buildup and soiling. (It’s normal for your child to have some night-time wetting up to around seven years old. Day-time wetting is a problem if it continues once your child has been toilet trained.
Encopresis is a dysfunctional condition of the colon caused by chronic constipation which creates a backup of stool in the lower colon that causes pressure to build in the bowel as the lumen becomes stretched. With stretching created by the build up of stool matter, nerve signals responsible for stool urge can cease to function.
Children, teenagers and adults can develop this condition as an end result of chronic long term constipation.
When this happens the nerves become affected and they normal motility and muscle contractions that would move the stool out with an effective urge sensation, ceases to work.
As stool builds up over, seepage of loose stool leaks past the mass and causes wet fecal soiling in the underpants of varying amounts. The appearance of this soiling can be misleading as it appears to be diarrhoea. It has a particular odour to it different to the usual for the child.
Without clear nerve signals, the person stops receiving the stool urge, without which, they may not know when to go to the toilet.
In children it can seem as though they are soiling on purpose. This is rarely the case, and it is very iimportant not to shame or get upset at the child. Oftentimes they are genuinely not receiving effective signals that they need to go. This situation is the end result of a functional condition that has been brewing for some time.
A medical review is important to rule out other causes of incontinence ( such as Hershprung’s disease, cerebral palsy, rectal stenosis etc?) Where underlying pathologies are not present, the medical approach is the use of osmotic laxatives and siting routine over several months, with referral to a psychologist if indicated. We have found that results for this limited treatment are low. Paediatricians don’t screen for parasites or address food intolerances, and these things can be pivotal to recovery. We employ a cohesive approach.
To restore the proper function of the colon it requires an approach that incorporates :
- clearing away the accumulated material in the bowel
- a review and likely change in the diet – identifying and removing foods that contribute to constipation and adding in foods that support healthy bowel function
- re-establishment of a healthy microbiome - the trillions of beneficial flora that look after the health of the immune and digestive function
- screening for parasites and low grade intestinal infections
- re-estabilishment of an appropriate toileting routine until proper nerve function is restored
- proper positioning on the toilet
- review of any emotional factors that may be related and referral to an appropriate health professional
At Healthier By Choice, we employ a holistic, integrated approach incorporating functional testing and utilisation of the skills of other practitioners where a referral is indicated. Sessions are individualised and based on the unique needs of each client. Every person is different and we seek to identify and address all the causative factors implicated in health issues so we can best support the body’s ability to health and regenerate, resolving issues for good.
What is a normal bowel movement?
Most people don't really know what 'normal' bowel function is, we don't realise that the bowel has been communicating it's troubles for quite some time before issues show up.
It can be a shock to some people to hear that a normal bowel movement does not stink. Likewise, it does not come with a lot of wind, is not loose, watery, dry, stony, overly large or very hard to pass; it is not messy, does not leave evidence of its passing on the porcelain, is easy to flush, and fairly efficient to complete. A healthy bowel movement would never take long enough to read something, watch a Youtube video or play on the mobile phone. It is never preceded by an urgent dash to the bathroom, doesn't come with a great deal of chamber music, and is always an effortless, efficient, pleasant experience. A normal bowel movement requires no straining, doesn't smell and is quick and easy to clean, one or two wipes and you're done. No blood, no mucus, no scrubbing, no mess.
If you hear or read any story from a person diagnosed with bowel cancer, you will hear a story of bowel problems that were experienced for five years or more before their diagnosis was made.
Problems with plumbing should never be ignored, this is your body telling you make some changes, and if you don't heed the call, the body will not be able to fend of disease. The body is adept at healing when given what it needs. There is no greater healer in the world, than the body you posses. When it comes to any health condition, bowel problems in particular, health is the best way to protect against disease, with added benefit of making everything better - life experiences, relationships, work, fitness, self esteem, sleep, energy, beauty, fertility, success, holidays, parenting, contentment - everything
Oftentimes a person can consider themselves lucky if they have been actually diagnosed with a bowel disease, because with this title comes a focus on healing. This is where Natural Medicine has its strength. While medicine seeks to suppress symptoms to make a person feel better, Naturopaths and Nutritionists seek to support the body to heal.
When the colon becomes home to impacted faecal matter, the toxic effects to the body accumulate, eventually being seen in other body systems. Inflammation is the body's friend, it shows that the body is trying to undertake a healing process. Without the right help though, this inflammation can cause damage. Symptoms indicate the body is trying to do something. It is best to heed to the message, rather than seek to suppress the symptom.
Signals from the body :
Fatigue - when the body doesn't have the resources to keep on top of all the things that need to happen every day, fatigue results. When there is a chronic degenerative process in the body, fatigue and exhaustion are often the first sign posts of disease.
Skin Problems – the skin is known as the third kidney. When the bowel stops eliminating properly, the pressure falls to the kidneys to remove more wastes. When the kidneys can't clear efficiently enough, the skin is next site for excretion. The skin is the largest of the body's elimination systems. Signs such as rashes, dermatitis, boils, cysts, hives, itching, excessive dryness, flaking, psoriasis, lesions and wounds that don't heal, tell us the body is struggling to detoxify, repair and restore itself.
Immune dysfunction - will manifest as either depletion, with an increased frequency of colds, infections, fevers, inflammation, or with more chronic degenerative conditions such as chronic fatigue and auto-immunity (eg: Rheumatoid arthrits, schleroderma, lupus etc)
Respiratory issues – Many people don’t realize that the large intesting and the lungs have a close relationship. Children with asthma will commonly experience a worsening of their respiratory symptoms when their bowel becomes blocked up. Typical symptoms can include sinusitis, rhinitis, asthma, or even a sore throat that doesn’t seem to go away, bronchitis, tonsillitis, pneumonia.
Endocrine System – Food intolerances can take a toll on the body, making it more likely that you’ll end up with thyroid problems, increased PMS, endometriosis, period pain, hormonal acne, PCOS, fertility issues. It can even increase the risk of a a food-related disease such as hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia and with time, diabetes.
Immune System – issues with food impact the immune system through the Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue, where 80% of the immune system resides. This can make a person increasingly susceptible to immune issues such as : Auto-immunity, frequent colds, runny nose, sinus and a general loss of immune resilience causing the above issues.
Weight – If you’re experiencing a significant weight loss or weight gain, then your body may be reacting to a particular food by holding onto fluid and fat. Food intolerance can also impact metabolism and detoxification, influencing the way your body manages calories and waste clearance.
Nervous System - anxiety, depression, restlessness, teeth grinding, difficult concentrating, behavioural issues, sleep problems.
When review Naturopathically, we take all systems into account as the body is an integrated system, all aspects work together.
The place to start is always to get on the right diet for the individual. BEST helps you discover what foods are best to avoid, and which foods are fine for the gut. This takes the pressure of the system and liberates energy so the body can start catching up.
Parasites are a grossly underestimated factor in bowel problems. Doctors tend not to routinely check for them, and often the testing undertaken carries with it a high likelihood of false negatives; a clear test result despite there being a chronic, low grade infestation present.
A parasite is any organism that lives and feeds off of another organism. When we talk about intestinal parasites, we are referencing tiny organisms, usually worms, living in your gut and feeding off of your nutrition. In the case of tapeworms, this means attaching to the gut wall and feeding off your blood. Hideous thought, right?
Some of the most common parasites include roundworms, tapeworms, pinworms, whipworms, hookworms, blastocystus, entamoeba and many more. Because parasites come in so many different shapes and sizes, they can cause a very wide range of problems. Some consume your food, leaving you constantly hungry and unable to gain weight. Others consume your red blood cells, causing anaemia. Some lay eggs that can cause itching, irritability, jaw clenching and even insomnia. Others burrown into the bowel wall and release eggs to the lungs, causing coughing and difficult to diagnose lung disorders or liver cysts.
If you have tried countless approaches to heal your gut and relieve your symptoms without lasting success, parasite screening may be indicated.
Personalised Health Care
Each person is unique, with their own particular lifestyle factors, health history, epi-genetic characteristics and treatment needs. We regard each person as an individual, and aim work with you to identify the causative and sustaining factors in your current experience, and what you need to move forward in the most efficient and effective way for you.
Call us to discuss your needs, or email us below.